It is that time of year again. With the current year coming to an end, it is time to determine your goals for next year. For many of you, fat loss is a big deal. If fat loss is of interest to you, read this blog post. This blog post is dedicated to those of you who want to add healthy muscle to your frame.
For many of you, the thought of adding muscles means looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger during his bodybuilding days:
Keep in mind that you do not need to look like a bodybuilder if muscle building is what you’re after. You can add 10-15 lbs of muscle and completely change how your body looks and performs. Adding muscle to your frame has these benefits:
- Increased strength
- Decreased bodyfat
- Increased metabolic rate
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Reduced risk of disease
7 Muscle Building Tips
These tips are simple, but will require some action on your part to make it happen. Before you talk about how to build muscle safely, you need to set goals. To understand how to set goals, read our two part series on goal setting here and here. Alright, here we go with our 7 Muscle Building Tips:
- Train the way that you like within the repetition ranges you like – You can build muscle in any repetition range as long as you are progressing. That being said, you should occasionally rotate your repetition ranges for an added stimulus to promote muscle growth. For example, if you tend to train in the 8-12 rep range (traditional strength/hypertrophy range), try lowering your rep range to 4-8. This will force your body to adapt to heavier weight which will promote muscle growth since you are challenging your muscles harder. If you find that you’re enjoy rotating your rep ranges around, switch them around every 6-8 weeks, going from higher reps (12-15) to lower reps (1-4) and all the ranges in between.
- Never Neglect Performance – Push your body to perform! If you don’t push your body, it will take longer to build muscle. However, you shouldn’t push your body to the point of injury. Be smart in how you train and listen to your body. If you saw the movie 300, the actors that played the Spartan Warriors trained to build muscle to look “Spartan.” As they trained, they occasionally did a workout that gauged how well their training was. If they improved their time during the workout, that told them they were improving. You should do the same thing. Here is an example: Set a timer for 10 minutes and see how many rounds of 10 pushups, 6 Pullups, and 10 Lunges you can perform. Remember that number. Go through your program and then repeat the workout again after 4-6 weeks for the same time. Hopefully you can perform more rounds in the same amount of time. This shows progress. If not, you need to evaluate your program or the intensity at which you are training.
- Train all three muscular length positions- when you are doing an exercise, you should choose an exercise that specifically trains the three contracted positions: shortened, mid, and lengthened. The shortened position allows a hard, tight contraction that helps the mind/muscle connection. The next type is a mid contracted position. This type of contraction builds the greatest tension in the muscle. The last type, lengthened, does the most muscle damage and is great for stimulating protein synthesis. To build muscle, you need muscular damage, so don’t skip the lengthened position. Perform an exercise for each contraction range. Using the biceps as the example, the shortened contraction exercise would be the concentration curl, the mid contracted state would be a standard barbell curl, and the lengthened contracted state would be an incline dumbbell curl.
- Each set should be trained to failure – here is what we mean: on your last rep of each set, do that rep as slowly as possible during the negative phase. We have two phase of muscular contractions: positive (concentric) and negative (eccentric). Negative contractions are the lowering of the weight. They also cause the most muscular damage. Muscle damage is what is needed for the body to build muscle. You are stronger during the negative portion of the lift, which is why we are lowering the last rep slowly. Build up your time so you can take 30 seconds to lower the weight. Big safety statement here: Only do this with exercises that are safe to do so, especially is you are training by yourself.
- Activate your muscles before the workout – at Precision Fitness, we activate the hips, core, and scapular muscles through simple light weight and/or bodyweight exercises to activate the muscles we are going to use. This increases blood flow to the muscles and prepares them for the harder work to come. 1-2 sets of one exercise per muscle group being targeted should be adequate. Do around 10+ reps and go nice and slow so you can feel the muscle activating. This is absolutely necessary and a prerequisite for building muscle safely to help reduce injury.
Calories Rule! You must eat to grow – if you aren’t taking in enough good wholesome calories, building muscle will be impossible. This is not a excuse to eat extra ice cream and chips. You should be eating nutritious food that do not inflame you. Here are some suggestions for eating to gain muscle:
- Eat between .8 – 1.0 grams per body weight of protein per day. For a 150 lb person, that means between 120-150 grams of protein a day. More protein isn’t necessarily better. Extra protein causes an extra strain on your body that isn’t needed, so stay within the recommendations listed here.
- Eat between 2-3 grams per bodyweight of carbohydrates per day. For the same 150 lb person, eating 300-450 grams of carbs per day. Your sources of carbs should be good, wholesome foods – rice, potatoes, avocados, vegetables, fruit, etc.
- Do not eat excess fat. Let your fat intake come from your protein sources: meats, fish, nuts, etc.
- The scale should slowly be increasing – about .5lb – 1 lb/week at most. If you are gaining more than that, you will be adding fat mass. If the scale isn’t moving or is going down, add some quality fat sources. For example, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to your diet.
- Don’t focus 100% of your efforts strictly on muscle building over an extended period of time- Intersperse your muscle building phases with a 4-8 week cut phase. This will allow your body to shed any unwanted fat and hold onto your muscle. Plus, a cut phase will improve your body’s insulin sensitivity which will allow you to reduce bodyfat and build muscle easier. To learn how to lose bodyfat, click this link.
Building muscle can be done fairly easily. You just have to do the work and be consistent. If you feel you need some extra help with that, we can help! We offer online training. For more information, check our our website.
author dave radin